Anything I can do to attract bees?

I finally have several flowers on my plums and pluots yet I don’t see any bee activity on them. My blueberries were covered with bees about a month ago and my orange tree had about 20 bees in it today. So I know they are around but I don’t ever see them on the trees that I need to be pollinated. I saw one bee today hover over the 3 in 1 pluot, think about it for a second or two, and then decide to head over to the apple tree.

How do I steer them to the pluots or will they eventually make their way there? I thought about getting some mason bees but wondered if they would show the same behavior.

I have seen one or two hover flies on the pluots though. Are they good pollinators?


If the situation continues with no bees landing on the Plums,maybe try hand pollinating with a small paintbrush or q-tip.That’s what I’ve been doing,since they’ve been blooming and a little too cold for the insects,although there was a Bumble today on the Flavor Grenade flowers,but didn’t stay long.
I will bring a small cup with me and catch some of the pollen,when working the flowers.
Mason bees are very good at what they do.I had some last year,but maybe it was still too cold.Sometimes it’s about the timing. Brady

I have some plum and pear trees that I’ve been hand pollinating, but I can only do it in the later part of the afternoon. The weather’s been warm here in S. Cal, but I’m not getting any visible pollen on the brush I use. Does this have to be done in the morning or should there be pollen on the flowers all day long?

brownmola. If we are talking about honeybees the temperature is the key to their activity level. You apparently have some in your area if that is what was working your blueberries. I have the same issue with some of my early blooming pears. I hand pollinate when the temps are low. Good luck, Bill

We have solved our issues with less attractive flowers by placing hives directly below those trees. We too have had issues with pluots not attracting bees. Also cherries. Our issue is that both of them come out at the same time pear and apricot do. The bees seem to prefer apricot and pear over cherry and pluot so we place hives in those trees and they pretty much have to pay attention to them first.

Brown, not sure where you live, but I see you’re zone 10b like myself, so if you’re in S. California, consider planting flowering plants that flower at the same time and attract bees. Right now, my lavenders are blooming, especially my Spanish lavenders, and they are covered with bees. Low water requirements are also a nice plus. You can plant them in between your trees. Also, Rosemary is another big bee attractor, as is any California native that blooms now. You may also consider Milkweeds, which bloom now and attract both bees as well as our lovely Monarchs.

Thanks everyone! I will start hand pollinating. I also happen to have a large milkweed in a pot that I can move to the plum/pluot row of trees I have.

Could I also snip some orange flower branches and place them in the pluot trees? The bees completely love the orange flowers and right now they are super fragrant.

One other lesser know fact is that bees prefer to visit one type plant at a time or where they are most productive. I’m not sure if bringing in one plant of a different plant will help.

I wonder if they are not attracting the bees due to a lack of fragrance. It sounds like u have bees in the area. I know that when u course bees u can attact them with liquid anise extract. Maybe dab some on a cloth and tie it in the tree.

I’ve never heard of this method before. I’ll have to pick some of this up at a CVS and try that out.

I’ve read that broadleaf herbicides used on the orchard floor are advantageous due to the fact that bees will visit dandelion flowers in preference to fruit blossom when given the choice.

What I’ve always read is the main ticket is to have nourishing flowers for as many months as possible to sustain a wide range of pollinators. That certainly seems to work here- pollination is never an issue.

And Alan I would add to that, by trying to select native flowering plants, as that is what supports best your native bee populations. So, besides all my non-native Mediterranean plants, I also have Ceanothus, manzanitas, Sea Pin, California poppies, penstemons, Calliopsis, mimulus, and severla other flowering California natives that start flowering in the late winter through spring and on. If I sit out in my yard, it literally hums. It is the coolest sound. I have no shortage of bees in my yard, enough that they will venture over to my stone fruit trees to check out the blossoms.


Yup, I gotta a lot of natives in the mix, but my buzzem buddies are liberal in their acceptance of aliens as well. They sure love my black currants and crocus, for example. Main thing is to have stuff they can feed on from early spring through fall.

Alan, can you grow them under or between your stone fruits? It may encourage them to travel upwards a bit. I guess it’s a bit like dragging a horse to water. Only in this case, dragging a bee to a flower :smile: :bee: :cherry_blossom:

I have a large flower bed that blooms pretty much spring to fall. I put quite a few herbs in, along with annuals, perennials… Plus it adds a lot of color.

Look for native flowers where you live; self seeding or perennial. Plant them year-round minus any weeks when it is too cold for honey bee activity (<57F). Native pollinators are usually out around 55F. Native flower will attract honey bees AND other pollinizers (bees, flies, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, others). Year round is you promise to them that if they show up there will be something to eat.

You can set the flowers up on a mowable patch. If the pollinators are focusing on your flowers more than the plums, etc when they are in bloom, mow em down early in the morning.

You can also build a shallow pond. Put in a pebbled landing area (super shallow) for beneficial insect landing (pests get their water from your plants). Again they will hang around a water source. This pond can also have a birdbath built in. This will aerate the water if properly designed, and encourage birds to drink instead of poke a hole in your unripe fruit. Some mosquito control fish and pond plants.

You can put flowered cuttings of what they are visiting in a vase in or near the trees you want pollinated. That brings them into the proximity. There are solutions that keep the flowers alive longer.

This year I am trying fruit fly pollination: Put fruit scraps out in a bucket that is fermenting and watch the tiny fruit flies come out. Hopefully they visit the flowers. This was tried for my earliest flowers as I get poor fruit yields on some cultivars (but they might be too young). Not much else is willing to get out when it is still cold.

Lastly you can keep one or more hives on your property or encourage solitary bees to nest there. Or both. A beekeeper may be willing to put one on your property and maintain it for the honey.

Hoosier, I don’t think that matters here- plant it and they will come!

Of course this is in my area. I’ve opened up the forest and the pollinators love the concentration of food here. Different ones favor different species of fruit. For instance certain flies love pears even though their pollen is not very nutritious- but it does smell a bit like dead meat.

The one fruit species I can’t get pollinated is Kiwi (arguta). Nothing here likes their flowers even though they smell very sweet.

I can’t say how many times I’ve read that dandelions can distract bees from fruit tree flowers, but I have never had that problem and they are always much more interested in the fruit trees. The only time I need to whack down my dandelions is before spraying.

Brownmola, try smearing a small amount of honey on your plum and pluot trees to attract bees.

The honey might work too, at least the scent of it might excite the bees. Bees who feed at ur tree will fly back to the hive and through wiggling buzzing movements they will tell other bees how good the food supply is where they fed. They will tell the other bees within e few feet of the exact location of the food source. If u can get some bees returning to the hive excited about the tree they should bring more back with them.